Claudia was shorter than I’d expected, no more than five feet tall, tiny but with an obvious boiling pot of energy within. Some vital , striking spark. The whole family had descended at about 5 o’clock and brought with them a rolling, consuming chaos that enveloped the house. Cooking was going on furiously, black pans and red steaks were on every surface and wine corks were gathering on the floor and in the corners. There were at least a dozen adults and a half a dozen children. I found it hard to keep count or to recognize and remember names, I also found it hard not to stare at Claudia who was, when not dancing amongst the kitchen tables herself, staring at Ernesto
It was a long and drawn out meal will introductions and cross connecting and meaningless conversations, few of them in English. Eventually the cheap wine took its toll and there was a mass retiral towards the rear of the house where we sat on the patio. Ernesto‘s father Juan then produced a bloodied port bottle and a weathered looking cigar box. Sexism was unknown here and both them men and women partook, the children had by now escaped and were I presumed asleep somewhere or outside practicing their night time rifle shooting. It‘s vital to keep the rabbits down.
Much later I awoke, I was still on the patio and dawn was breaking open, my unreliable watch said six thirty and I felt cold. I had enjoyed the previous night but my throat was now dry and my head aching. I lay back on the basket work couch and looked at the patterns of the woodwork on the roof. I found that it help to detach from the self and focus on some external point. Then the dogs awoke, I hadn’t realised that they were light sleepers, something had spooked them and they (three greyhounds) began to yelp and sniff. It was time to stretch and they too had to keep the rabbits down.
Breakfast was steak and eggs. Brown round steaks and great yellow eggs like Chinese suns. The coffee was hot, steaming and earthy and tasted like a swarm of wasps. As has happened the previous evening all and sundry gathered around the table and chatted in a higher than night time pitch Portuguese. I almost kept occasionally losing concentration to watch the lovebirds meet and peck in their special early morning place. She was smiling like a warm cuddle and he was grinning like a serious blow job, all between mouthfuls of steak.